Letters from Leadership
A trip to China, even to speak at a cardiology conference, is special. But I will never forget my trip to speak in Shanghai in late May.
I received word by phone at 5 a.m. Shanghai time on May 31 that Brad Berk, the CEO of URMC, had been seriously injured in a cycling accident and was being airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital.
Brad and I have been close friends and scientific collaborators since 1981, when we met while we were in training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. As soon as I got off the phone, I arranged to cut short my trip and return to New York to be with him. At the time, I had no real sense of prognosis, but I knew that the injury was very serious. When I arrived in New York and had a chance to get briefed, there was certainly worry that the injury could leave him with serious impairment. However, even then, there were some positive signs that suggested a real possibility of marked improvement over time.
In this issue of Rochester Medicine, Brad discusses, in detail, the accident and his injury, the lessons he has learned and the state of his recovery. You can sense the determination he has applied to his therapy and recovery.
Brad has progressed very well. It is difficult to predict the outcome of this kind of injury from the initial presentation. The good news was that unlike the injury to Christopher Reeve, he did not sever the spinal cord. However, most spinal cord injuries are complicated by swelling and inflammation around the cord, which can take quite a while to resolve. In addition, some damage to the nerves can repair over time. Even during the first few days, he showed improvement, so there was every reason to be optimistic that he would have a significant recovery. Over the last few weeks, Brad has shown substantial improvement, particularly in his arms.
And there is every reason to believe that he will continue to recover. That in itself is a clear motivator. Brad and I are extraordinarily upbeat and optimistic people. That is one of the characteristics that have made us such close friends. Brad always has been forward thinking, sets the highest goals, and has great perseverance. His approach to his injury is no different than that for anything else that he does—i.e., he accepts it as a challenge to be conquered, sets long and short-term goals, and moves forward. Brad has a great vision for the Medical Center that he has honed over the years. He has worked extraordinarily hard to bring that vision to fruition. I can’t see any injury diverting him from moving that vision forward. After you read what he has to say in this issue and see the energy and persistence, I am sure you will agree.
For a quiet corner where I can have a moment of contemplation and reflection or an environment for exploration and discovery, I know of no better place than the Edward G. Miner Library.
Through all my years on the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and as a pediatrician at the Medical Center, I knew everyone could find what they needed at Miner—and if they couldn’t find what they needed, they knew there was a librarian who could. Miner has changed in physical appearance over the years but the level of service has only increased.
We are fortunate to have an outstanding medical library accessible to all members of our extended Medical Center family. We owe a lot to the leadership at Miner, Lucretia McClure, Valerie Florance and now Julia Sollenberger, the current associate vice president and director of Medical Center libraries and technologies. Julia oversees the Miner Library, the Basil G. Bibby Library at the Eastman Dental Center and the John R. Williams Health Sciences Library at Highland Hospital.
Miner’s leaders have made sure the library has kept pace with the needs of medical students, faculty, researchers, staff and patients. Julia just finished a year as president of the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries so she knows what is happening at medical schools and medical centers across the country.
We see the changes of the last 10 to 20 years in technology, communication and education very clearly in Miner. An article in this issue of Rochester Medicine examines these changes. Many of us remember well the hours we spent working our way through card catalogs and searching in the stacks. Search engines have made our work easier.
In many ways, the library is more accessible than ever for all of us. We can go to Miner with our laptop and spend the day or we can get the journal article we want from our office.
But the technology also places more demands on the library. Miner’s leaders, working with the administration and the faculty, work to find ways to pay for journals and other services that seem to have steadily increasing fees. They make sure all users of the library are authenticated. They reach out to patients and to members of the community.
As you will read in this issue, Miner’s leaders are looking to the future. Miner needs more space for classrooms to teach us about the library’s resources. The library needs a technology upgrade, group learning areas to support our medical school curriculum and an enhanced area to display Miner’s extensive collection of historic books and manuscripts. And yes, Miner should have a café!
I look forward to working with our colleagues to assure the continued excellence of Miner well into the future. After reading about Miner needs and the proposed changes, I hope our alumni join us.
Multimedia in this issue:
Brad Berk talks about his recovery from a cervical fracture.
The Sights of Reunion 2009
View a slideshow of the event.
The Heart of the Medical Center
View and listen to a narrated slideshow about the Miner Library then and now.